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Mon 30 Sep 2019 04:18 PM

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Two-thirds of Arab youth view Iran as an enemy, survey shows

Findings from the survey revealed that young Arabs are generally favourable towards European nations

Two-thirds of Arab youth view Iran as an enemy, survey shows
Founder of ASDA’A BCW, Sunil John, presents findings from the 11th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey at an event at Chatham House in London on September 23, 2019.

With regional tensions running high after the strikes on Saudi Arabian oil installations this month, two-thirds of young Arabs view Iran as an enemy, according to a new report.

In the GCC, 87 per cent viewed Iran as an enemy and just 13 per cent as an ally, according to the 2019 ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey.

In the Levant and North Africa, 51 and 64 per cent viewed Iran as an enemy respectively.

Favourable towards Europe

Findings from the survey revealed that young Arabs are generally favourable towards European nations, with three European nations among the top 10 viewed as a strong ally. 

France is viewed as an ally by 75 per cent of those surveyed, closely followed by Germany with 73 per cent and the UK at 68 per cent. 


(L-R) Founder, ASDA’A BCW Sunil John with Dr. Simon Mabon, Senior Lecturer at Lancaster University; Sara Masry, independent consultant; and Dr. Sanam Vakil, Senior Research Fellow, Chatham House at a panel discussion at Chatham House in London on September 23, 2019. The panel discussed findings from the 11th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey on pressing issues such as religion, international relations, conflicts, and drug use.

Arab youth attitudes towards the US are much more polarised, with more than half (59 per cent) considering the US to be an enemy of their respective countries. 

Closer to home, 93 per cent of young Arabs seeing the UAE as their strongest ally, while 80 per cent seeing Saudi Arabia as their biggest ally – showing a high favourability towards the GCC.

Sunil John, Founder, ASDA’A BCW, and president, Middle East, BCW, said, “We’re moving from the power hubs of Baghdad and Cairo to those of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.”

The survey is the largest of its kind of the region’s youth, based on face-to-face interviews with 3,300 Arab men and women aged 18 to 24, and covers five of the GCC states, North Africa, the Levant and Yemen.